Ambient techno

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Ambient techno (also known as intelligent techno[1]) is a 1990s offshoot of techno and ambient house that united the atmospheric textures of ambient music with the melodic and rhythmic elements of techno and electro.[1] It was pioneered by electronic artists such as B12, Aphex Twin, the Black Dog, Higher Intelligence Agency, and Biosphere.[1]


Described by critic Simon Reynolds as a "post-rave genre," ambient techno departed from the communal, dance-oriented sound heard at raves and instead saw popularity as a form of "electronic listening music."[2] Some European producers and labels began using the term "intelligent techno" to differentiate their work from commercial rave culture, which they credited with the corruption of the original ideals of techno.[1] Although many artists whose work could be considered to come under this umbrella term, such as Aphex Twin, have criticised the term and would not label their work as "intelligent". [3]

Artists returned to the instruments of the Detroit techno and Chicago house scenes, including analogue synthesizers, the Roland TB-303 bass machine, and the TR-909 drum machine, while also drawing on ambient and chillout elements.[2] AllMusic states that the style blended techno's "well-produced, thin-sounding electronics; minor-key melodies and alien-sounding samples and sounds [...] with the soaring, layered, aquatic atmospheres of beatless and experimental ambient."[1] Reynolds wrote:

With its samples of bird-song and trickling water, ambient techno is a digital update of the nineteenth century programme music – the pastoral symphony that is nary, as with the aqua-mysticism and forest idylls of Claude Debussy.[2]

The release of Warp Records' Artificial Intelligence compilation in 1992 helped to establish the genre and featured artists such Aphex Twin and B12 under aliases, Autechre, and the Orb's Alex Paterson.[2] According to AllMusic, the style was associated with labels such as Warp, Apollo, GPR, and Beyond.[1] The genre would move toward a darker sound reminiscent of Brian Eno's notion of "environmental music" with releases such as Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Vol. 2 (1994).[4] In 1995, producer Wolfgang Voigt began releasing influential ambient techno projects as Gas, bringing together lush and expansive atmospheres with 4/4 minimal techno beats.[5]

Associated artists[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Ambient Techno - Genre Overview". AllMusic. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d Reynolds, Simon (2012). Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture. Soft Skull Press. pp. 156–7. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  3. ^ "Aphex Twin interview- Perfect Sound Forever". Retrieved 2018-09-16.
  4. ^ Reynolds, Simon (2012). Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture. Soft Skull Press. p. 178. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  5. ^ "Gas: Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 22 April 2018.